The First Casualty of Israel’s War


It is said truth is the first casualty of war. It is rather the first casualty of inhumanity. You have to lie, maybe to yourself as well, when your are engaged in inhumanity. You wouldn’t have to lie about a war that really was right.

By Zionism I mean the founding and actually necessary defence of the state of Israel in roughly its 1948 boundaries. It was justified by the Holocaust in the past and is justified by the existence of a Jewish homeland now. By neo-Zionism I mean the taking from the suffering Palestinians, the only indigenous people of historic Palestine, at least their autonomy in the last fifth of their homeland.

A decent humanity, the Principle of Humanity, ultimately justifies Zionism. It condemns neo-Zionism absolutely. There aren’t two sides to the story of a real rape.

The neo-Zionist government of Israel says that in attacking the democracy of Gaza it is doing no more than engaging in self-defence. It is saving lives of its own citizens from rocket attacks.

That is not its aim. If that were its aim, Israel would achieve it immediately by embracing the solution to the Palestinian problem, in no way complex. It would give up neo-Zionism. It would withdraw, without negotiation, from the remaining homeland of another people.

The preponderant aim of neo-Zionism in Gaza now is neo-Zionism. It is that vicious selfishness. It is that semitism on a level with anti-semitism and now beginning to be comparable in effects. The state of Israel has no moral right to pursue its preponderant aim in Gaza.

That is not quite all. In its neo-Zionism, Israel has no moral right to defend itself against the rockets used against it. Whatever the instincts of human nature, it has no more right to defend itself against them than Hitler Germany had a right to defend itself and its death camps.

What Israel is engaged in is not even war. For a war, in the connotation of the term that is necessary, including necessary for propaganda, you need two sides comparable in power. What is happening in Gaza now is something else.

It is the Palestinians who have had, and now have, a moral right to their terrorism, their justified self-defence against neo-Zionism, in all of historic Palestine. The argument for that proposition, partly on the basis of the Principle of Humanity, is now easier.

TED HONDERICH is Grote Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at University College London and Visiting Professor at the University of Bath. His relevant books are After The Terror (Edinburgh University Press, 2002), On Political Means and Social Ends (Edinburgh University Press, 2003), Humanity, Terrorism, Terrorist War (UK: Continuum Publishing / US: Seven Stories Press, 2006), Punishment: The Supposed Justifications Revisited (Pluto, 2006); Philosopher: A Kind of Life (Routledge, 2001).









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